October 09, 2019
Did you know that that the research questions are amongst the last things to be written up in your thesis? Oh, yes, and they are also the first thing to be written up, just for a different purpose. Your initial research questions are aimed at providing you with some direction so to allow you to embark on your research.
With this they attempt to explore what is happening here? Why are some things apparently not working? Or, why is A happening once I do B? The questions are thus more of an exploratory nature.
In contrast to this, the final research questions are more of an explanatory nature. At that point in time the research has been conducted, data was gathered and analyzed, and then again analyzed against the literature. At that point the research questions will move around what is it that this research has answered? How do the questions relate to each other? Or what are the overarching themes and patterns that could be derived from such questions?
Having said that, while the foregoing sentence suggests that the research has been a linear step by step undertaking, in practice it is not. And therefore, we have the big middle part in which exploratory and explanatory questions consistently bounce together and drive your research further. On the exploratory end research questions are then focused on inquiring what is the data telling me about my initial questions? While on the explanatory end they attempt to look at things like what is the data telling me about the problem that I might have not considered at the start?
With this the constant shaping of the research questions is an integrated part of your research journey, and active element in the data collection and analysis process and as can be seen from the image below.
As the image shows, an overarching theme for the question what wine, cheese and rubbish have in common would be France. Though it should be acknowledged that one might want to argue that this well could be extended to include further countries within the same theme… But even if so, it still illustrates well how the research questions, the data collection and the analysis process mutually inform each other.
And as much as good research questions can guide you well through your research, as much can faulty research questions misguide you, and as has been discussed in this webinar. And for those at doubt, whether or not they are well or misguided, the webinar slides feature a number of URL to external supportive sources so for you to evaluate. And to those that would want to get some individual perspective on this matter, feel free to contact us and ask!
Following is a sample of the slides from the webinar. The full slide set is available here.
As always, we welcome your thoughts on topics that would be valuable to you or others going forward.
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